An Olive Garden server posted how much she earned on a Monday night at the chain during a 5-hour shift, and it sparked a litany of different reactions in the comments section of her YouTube short video documenting the process.
Kayy (@kayylaao) raked in over 138,000 likes and some 6,300+ comments on her post showing off her earnings for the time period where she displayed the tickets with tips she received on diners' cards, along with the cash payouts she earned in cold, hard moolah.
Kayy begins her video by stating: "How much money do I make serving at Olive Garden? So I'm a waitress at Oliver Garden we only go based on tips. We get $2 an hour but that gets taxed out so we only go on tips so this is me just packing up my apron, pens, server book, my money pouch, a Jolly Rancher of course, and today's Monday so let's see what we make in tips."
"$10, $30, $10, $29, we had a party so this was a 15 top whenever you have over 8 at Olive Garden you have to split it so they gave us $73 split in half we each got $26. I got a $5 tip, a $12 tip, $11 so I made $87 on the card which goes to my bank account, $34 cash, so I made $121 in five hours."
Numerous commenters who saw Kayy's video had differing responses to her clip. One person thought it was crazy for her to be making the amount of money she was earning per hour and in the manner in which she was earning it: "This is insane. Your employer is basically NOT paying you a salary. You work for free. The client needs to pay for food AND your salary. Calling this economy is madness."
Whereas another person didn't think she was making out too badly: "$121 in 5 hours isn’t bad if it’s consistent, that’s the same as I make in Seattle if I’m working for $20/hr for a 6 hours shift"
Another commenter wrote that what she earned was tantamount to "a nice volunteering job," and there were several other commenters who seemed shocked that Kayy's base wage as a server was $2/hr.
However, there was one person in the comments section of the video who explained what the payout structure for tipped servers was which helped to clear up some of the misconceptions that viewers of Kayy's video had.
They wrote: " They wrote: "She gets paid $2/hr but has to make AT LEAST $7.25/hr including tips (federal minimum wage) so if after tips she doesn’t hit an average of $7.25/hr her employer will cover the difference. Doesn’t really matter because almost all servers make well over $7.25/hr including tips. ADVICE: tip your servers in cash so they can declare a lower amount at the end of the night, increasing their contribution from the employer and reducing their taxable income!"
According to the US Department of Labor's website, it appears that the aforementioned YouTube user's explanation of tipped employees is accurate: sure, someone might be receiving $2.13 per hour as part of their salary. However, that's not how much they're actually earning.
If the tipped server in question doesn't receive $7.25 an hour even with their gratuities included, then the employer is obligated to pay them that amount as part of the USA's Federal Minimum Wage.
If they earn more than that per hour, however, then they can get that amount "deducted" from their pay that goes back to the employer as the rest is covered by tips.
This is why unreported cash tips are preferable — but even when they are reported, there are many instances, like commenters who responded to Kayy's video remarked, where servers are earning way more than minimum wage.
This is especially true for servers who work at establishments that are known to yield high gratuities for servers, like people who work in high-end, luxury restaurants, or being a bottle service girl or in a themed establishment like Twin Peaks that seems structured in a way that sets employees up to be "spoiled" by clientele.
When it comes to the average salary for an Olive Garden server, Zip Recruiter writes that folks can expect to make around $15.89 an hour, based on national figures from all across the United States.
Of course, like most businesses, location plays a big role in how much someone is going to earn at the Olive Garden according to the website. A server at the Berkeley, California location, for instance, can expect to earn about $4,000 more per year on average than their counterpart in Bellevue, Washington.